The metaphysics of logical positivism by Gustav Bergmann

By Gustav Bergmann

Comprises bibliographical references and index.

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This is that surprising turn within the turn which I had in mind when I observed that the old questions, though preserved in one sense, are yet in another changed almost beyond recognition. To insist on this transformation is one thing. To dismiss the classical questions out of hand, as some positivists unfortunately do, is quite another thing. Fourth. The method realizes the old ideal of a philosophy without presuppositions. Part of this ideal is an illusion, for we cannot step outside of ourselves or of the world.

Notice the difference from sensationism. Relational and higher-order undefined predicates are not excluded. The in­ dispensability of at least one of these two categories is be­ yond reasonable doubt. Nor does the principle exclude unde­ fined descriptive signs that refer to ingredients of moral and aesthetic experience. If ethical naturalism is explicated as the rejection of such terms, then one sees that a reconstructionist need not be an ethical naturalist. I, for one, am not. The ideal language contains proper names, the sort of thing to which they refer being exemplified by sense data; ‘tree’ and ‘stone’ and ‘physical object’ itself are, broadly speaking, defined predicates, closer analysis revealing that the “subjects” of these predicates do not refer to individual trees and stones.

The linguistic turn. What precisely the linguistic turn is or, to stay with the metaphor, how to execute it properly is controversial. That it must be executed, somehow or other, is common doctrine, flowing from the shared belief that the relation between language and philosophy is closer than, as well as essentially different from, that between language and any other discipline. What are the grounds of this belief and how did it arise? First. There is no experiment on whose outcome' the pre­ dictions of two physicists would differ solely because the one is a phenomenalist, the other a realist.

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